His Excellency the Foreign Minister: Of course in the beginning, I would like to welcome my colleague and friend, Mr. Sigmar Gabriel, the German Vice Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the visit came at an important time for my dear friend to discuss the latest developments in the Gulf crisis and the measures that the blockading countries have taken against the State of Qatar, where he was briefed on the latest developments in this crisis, and especially after his visit to some of the blockading nations. Of course we briefed him on the latest developments regarding the 13 demands, and the response that we delivered yesterday to His Highness the Emir of Kuwait. We deeply appreciate the position taken by the Federal Republic of Germany since the beginning of the crisis, where it took the just position of standing against these unjust measures, and we thank him for all the efforts he is carrying out and what has been discussed with him in terms of proposals for moving forward in finding just solutions for this issue. Of course, the Qatar-German relations were a part of the meeting, since Qatari-German relations have been going on for decades, and there is an economic partnership between the two countries that is very important.
There are many investments for the State of Qatar in the Federal Republic of Germany, and there are German companies working in the State of Qatar, and we always welcome their presence here. Furthermore, we look forward to intensifying this cooperation in the future, and we also look forward to the German-Qatari partnership being a stronger partnership in the fields of economy and culture, and the fields of politics, security, and defense. I would like to you welcome you again Mr. Sigmar, and thank you for being here.
German Foreign Minister: Thank you so much for the time you are taking to meet me. I remember our last personal meeting under the influence of the current crisis, but I also remember the past discussions regarding Syria in different frames. We will not just talk about the crisis in the Gulf today, but also about Libya. And I can assure that Germany has good relations with Qatar and with all the Gulf states, and we care about maintaining these relations. They are not just good economic relations with Qatar but also good political relations with Qatar and the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). There is also an increase in the number of Germans who come to Doha, to Qatar and they reside here. This country is a site for tourism, and many of these people work and do business here. You understand, of course, that we discussed the current crisis in the Gulf separately and I would like to reiterate what we have talked about in such differences, obviously when one side accuses another…the other side does not respond with 'yes.' That is correct, and I accept all that. All these accusations…naturally, the two sides do not agree on all the demands and accusations. No. First, there is a need to find procedures and frameworks to discuss these controversial points, and to develop ideas to engage third parties in order to reach a solution. There is the critical, or very important, issue of how the whole region deals with the question of financing terrorism, the mechanisms and the discussion of relations between neighbors. And I have drawn attention to the fact that all parties and aspects are able to reach a solution if the intention is good. I also said in the UAE and Saudi Arabia that the sovereignty of the country must be maintained and there must be respect for the sovereignty of the country, and that must be very clear.
This is a prerequisite for us to be able to discuss all the complex issues, and the question might be: What is Germany's relation to all this? We have good relations with the GCC, and we also aim for joint work between the member states in the council for the security and stability of the region. If the GCC is no longer working jointly in the future, the security situation and stability will weaken in the region. We in Germany have economic interests in the region, and we have to maintain these interests, and these trade and economic relations should not be questioned. Regarding the countries that carried out these sanctions, and also what concerns Qatar, all parties have good possibilities to engage in dialogue if there is good will. I thank the great confidence we have found from the Qatari side, and for the open discussion. Thank you for all that.
Question: Haitham Abu-Saleh from Al-Jazeera:
Your Excellency the German Minister, you were asked about Germany's position on the crisis yesterday in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and His Excellency the Minister Adel al-Jubeir volunteered to answer for you. Can we once again know exactly what the German position is? And what is your remark on what happened yesterday when you were answering one of the questions? Was there a technical defect in the translation or was it a distortion? I also have a question for the Qatari Foreign Minister. After sending the Qatari response to His Highness the Emir of Kuwait, the UAE Foreign Minister spoke out and said enough to the support for terrorism. In your opinion, is this proof the crisis will escalate? And can we brief His Excellency the Minister on the Qatari response…thank you.
German Foreign Minister: Thank you very much. I think my Saudi colleague was trying to correct attention that there is bias in the German position. No, we did not stand with any side. We want to understand the essence of the problem, and to contribute to reaching a solution out of this crisis, and we do this with close coordination with our friends in the United States. I think what the Saudi Foreign Minister said yesterday was he was trying to clear up remarks in Saudi media outlets that the German position is biased. He was trying to correct that, and I was thanking him for that. I would like to tell you something about the financing of terrorism and extremism in Europe and Germany. It has been known for a long time that there was not only from one country but from various countries in the Gulf, there was support or financing for terrorist organizations in the past; Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, and other organizations that came after them. This support was not through a country or government…but in fact through individuals, organizations, and institutions, and this raised big problems, and this affects different countries, also your countries, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
There are international organizations that monitor the flow of funds to support terrorism. It should be in our common interest to monitor the financing of terrorism and the meaning of terrorism financing by these institutions and individual personalities. I have only noticed one example, and this just doesn't mean your country. 5% of the world population comes from the Arab world, and 50% of the weapons in the world are here, and 60% of refugees come from here. Based on these numbers, we have a very big problem. And I think there are people in the Qatari, Saudi, and Emirati governments who are trying to stop that and reach a solution to improve the situation. We have cooperation in the field of security between the intelligence agencies between us and the other member states of the GCC in order to combat Daesh, and prevent Al-Qaeda's return. And the basic thing is to give the youth a chance, a chance for the future. The youth in Syria, Yemen, and Libya don't see a chance for the future, there are people without hope, and this is a source for terrorists, and we have to provide for people good education, good training, and opportunities for work so that they can have prospects in their lives, and this is our joint mission and we have to work to achieve that.
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: With regards to your question about the content of the response to His Highness the Emir of Kuwait, of course, we delivered our response yesterday, which was prepared in advance until the date was scheduled with His Highness the Emir of Kuwait. The response came under the general framework for the principles of maintaining sovereignty, and respecting the sovereignty of countries, and not interfering in the internal affairs of any country in accordance with the framework or principles of international law. We can't talk about it extensively because it is now in the custody of the brotherly state of Kuwait, and they are the only ones authorized to talk about it and to talk about its contents if possible. As for the remarks of His Excellency the Emirati Minister, who said enough to the support of terrorism or enough financing for terrorism, we do not say to him except enough slander on the State of Qatar, and enough to the spreading of these lies about the State of Qatar, and distorting the reputation of Qatar and distorting the Islamic civilization, and the reputation of the Islamic civilization in the West, and enough accommodation for Iraqi war criminals and enough to the adoption of outlawed militias. If we start to keep up with the word enough, it will be enough, but we don’t want to go into this issue. I just want to comment on what my colleague Mr. Sigmar said about combatting the financing of terrorism and the problems of financing terrorism and terrorism financing in the region. The State of Qatar is fully committed to all international conventions in this regard and is an active member in combatting terrorism and combatting the financing of terrorism and has taken many efforts and reforms to avoid and address this phenomenon in the region. Of course, for the State of Qatar, the issue of combatting terrorism and combatting the financing of terrorism is a serious national security issue that is important to us and to the security of the region, but what was formulated in boycotting or curbing the State of Qatar and taking illegal measures against the State of Qatar under the slogan of combatting terrorism. These are measures they simply put under a framework so the international community will have international sympathy for these measures to combat terrorism, while the commitments made by the State of Qatar in the fight against terrorism and combatting the financing of terrorism exceed the blockading states in many stages.
The State of Qatar is in credible reports and internationally reliable reports, its role in combatting this phenomenon is well-known, and the efforts it carried out. His Excellency Mr. Sigmar spoke with me about international mechanisms and other things, and all these international mechanisms, Qatar is either a partner of or welcomes entering a partnership with because for us it is a matter of curing a phenomenon…the phenomenon of combatting terrorism in the region is a matter of priority…a priority of national security. The efforts that the State of Qatar strategically carries out to combat terrorism; we believe that these efforts will reap its benefits in the future of the region and it will impact the future of the region in a clear way when the State of Qatar provides 300,000 jobs in North Africa, as it combats terrorism and combats the despair rampant among youth. When it offers education to 7 million children in 42 countries it means that it is replacing weapons with pens. These children are taught and armed not to be exposed to extremist organizations and not to be attracted to them. The majority of children in refugee camps receive their education from institutions that are supported and adopted by the State of Qatar, the issue of combatting terrorism is not just with weapons, but also by arming the youth with jobs, and economically empowering them and arming them, arming children with education. The matter of terrorism must be put in a correct context, which is that terrorism is the usage of violence against civilians to change the reality, and terrorism is not differences in opinions, and the designation of political opponents as terrorists.
Question: Frank Bower from ZDF Television: My question is for the German Foreign Minister. You have talked to all the parties in this crisis, and you suggested a possible solution. The deadline will expire within a few hours, what are the chances of achieving a practical solution? You talked about the mechanisms that cover every region. Your Excellency the Qatari Foreign Minister, what are the works you have concerning this visit?
His Excellency the German Foreign Minister: We support the Emir of Kuwait and he is in communication with Qatar and the other parties in this crisis. We coordinate everything we say in a good manner, and we coordinate our efforts with the Americans and with the State Department. We are not playing the role of mediator. When it comes to international mechanism and the European role in international financial institutions, Germany will play its part. We will contribute to that, but we are not playing the role of mediator. It is very good that the role of mediator remains in the region, Kuwait holds this role. There are always different possibilities in our lives, and I think that what is now on the table with regard to the content of the Qatari response is that there is the possibility of finding a solution and settling complex issues.
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: Regarding the issue of whether there is hope of resolving this crisis and reaching a settlement through the existing mediation of the State of Kuwait. Of course in the beginning we should not fail to appreciate the role played by the brotherly State of Kuwait, and all friendly countries trying to heal this rift and resolve this crisis. The State of Qatar has been calling for dialogue since the beginning of this crisis, and expressed its position that if there were any allegations or abuses from the State of Qatar, then the State of Qatar would be ready to look for them but based on clear principles, and in accordance with the principles of not interfering in the internal affairs of nations and respecting the sovereignty of nations. The State of Qatar is against the imposition of guardianship, and rejects the imposition of guardianship on it from any country. Under this framework, the State of Qatar is ready to engage in dialogue, and is ready to look for grievances if they were found by these countries, and the State of Qatar has stated this many times. In return, it received negative statements. Despite this, the dialogue issues must be ongoing. But, this matter must be under a clear framework and a clear process between all parties, and is not based on threats and escalation against any state and must be based on the principle of equality, and is known in the charter of the United Nations.
Question: Yousef Al-Sayyed from Qatar News Agency: My question is for His Excellency the Qatari Foreign Minister. The State of Qatar requests serious dialogue to discuss ways to resolve this current crisis while the blockading states insist on the implementation of their demands without discussion. In light of these two positions, how can common ground be reached, and understandings that go beyond this crisis?
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: The State of Qatar’s position regarding engaging in dialogue has been made clear, and as for the positions of the other states, they are to be declared and justified, and the matter is left to them. But for us, the matter is clear. There is no solution to any crisis except through the table of negotiations, and no matter how much the measures escalate that any side may take against any other side in any crisis or conflict, the matter will end at the table in accordance with a specific and clear agreement and framework that sets forth the rights and duties of each party. The State of Qatar is in line with this international context to have a constructive dialogue and in accordance with clear principles and in accordance with a clear framework. As for the attitudes taken by the other states from the blockading nations against Qatar, this clearly expresses their position. Their position, for us, is that they are the ones who took hostile actions against Qatar, and Qatar was not hostile to anyone. Therefore, the State of Qatar has shown good faith and good initiative to have a constructive solution and a solution according to the dialogue. We believe that this is enough to carry out the duties on our part.
Question: Micaela Kovna from Deutsche Welle newspaper: What is Qatar's development in the fight against terrorism? My question to the German minister: What advice do you give your Qatari counterpart?
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: Beginning with the magnitude of the issue of financing terrorism in Qatar compared to other countries in the region…what we did is very little. That does not mean Qatar is unique in its position, but a big development has occurred, and there is an opportunity to do more and Qatar is committed. We are in dialogue with countries that have experience in combatting the financing of terrorism or international organizations. Regarding what has been done by the countries of the region, Qatar has participated in the majority of regional mechanisms, and it is an active member especially when it comes to the GCC framework. Within the framework of the GCC, some mechanisms have been introduced to develop existing systems. There have been great efforts carried out by the State of Qatar regarding this matter, and Qatar is committed to continuing with these efforts for its national interest. We do not do this to answer the request of any country; it is within our interest to combat terrorism and the financing of terrorism by all means. As for the second part of the question and what we can expect from the message of the blockading states tomorrow at their meeting, we can’t expect anything because the whole process was unexpected and surprising.
Many rules of international law have been violated as well as the rules of the United Nations have been violated in the blockade of our country. Therefore it is difficult for us to know what they’ll do but it’s important that Qatar did what it needed to do, and provided the answers to the Kuwaiti mediator, and now it is their job to respond to them. Will they adopt the constructive approach adopted by Qatar, or will they continue in the same way they have since the beginning of this crisis?
Intervention by His Excellency the German Foreign Minister: Qatar tried to explain that there was a different position, but Qatar did not carry out hostile actions or thought about attacking other countries economically or politically. No, Qatar said from the first minute that it wants dialogue. That does not mean the Qatari position is correct 100%, but it is fair to point out that the answer was fair. Qatar tried to clarify the issue and pointed out its readiness for dialogue, and that is an action against escalation and a defense of the Qatari position, but also an attempt to engage in dialogue. And I would like to say that this is not an ordinary position and many sides advised Qatar on it, but Qatar saw that it was the suitable response, and we hope now that the response will be reasonable. I don’t expect the other countries to say “yes.” For us, the Qatari response is enough for now. Naturally they will say ‘No, that is not enough, and Qatar must do more.”
But it would have been good if there had been an invitation to dialogue, and this was the call by the international community to the parties of the crisis, that this call be met, and this doesn’t mean an immediate solution. First, there must be an engagement in dialogue around the issues that could be changed, and what are the things that we want changed. I see that this potential is good. Of course, there are the possibilities of tightening the situation…escalation of the situation. But, we must see that the attempts of Qatar in the previous weeks deserve a clear response now. I think there is a possibility in engaging international parties and discussing ways to reach a solution around the negotiating table. I believe that the way through negotiation is the only solution, and if there is good will, the possibilities will be available, and this is the advice that I can offer to all the parties.
Question: Mona Kractchi from CNN: My question is for the Qatari Foreign Minister. You said that the demands are not reasonable, and that there dictations on the State of Qatar. Are there points where it is possible to engage with them?
His Excellency the Foreign Minister: You asked the same question about Al-Jazeera but in a different way, but thank you for your question anyway. As I said before regarding the list of demands, we said it many times, and not just us but also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this, and the US Secretary of State said this. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that any list of demands must be reasonable and acceptable for implementation, and we say that is not reasonable and it is not acceptable for implementation. We are not talking about combatting terrorism; we are talking about banning freedom of expression, blockading countries and violating their sovereignty. In international law and in accordance with international norms, this is unacceptable. The State of Qatar has adopted a positive and constructive attitude from the beginning. We tried to act wisely, with balance, and in a mature way and to move away from any irresponsible actions just like those carried out by the aggressors against us. That has always been the Qatari position. We looked at the list of demands and provided the responses in accordance with international law and in accordance with respecting the sovereignty of our country and not interfering in our internal affairs, and which is not possible for any independent country to accept. So this is the only thing that I can say now. And the response is now in the hands of our Kuwaiti brothers. They are the only ones who have the right to reveal the contents of the response.
We are satisfied with so many questions. Thank you to His Excellency the Qatari Foreign Minister and His Excellency the German Foreign Minister.